Wednesday 26 June 2019

'Everything happened so quickly, it was devastating' - young mother diagnosed with rare cancer

Ciara Donnelly (34) has turned to blogging and alternative medicines to help her with her battle with urachal cancer

Ciara (34) with sons Dean (14) and Bobby (6).
Ciara (34) with sons Dean (14) and Bobby (6).
Rachel Farrell

Rachel Farrell

A mother of two from Wicklow is seeking help from the public after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer earlier this year.

Ciara Donnelly (34) from Bray, Co. Wicklow was diagnosed with urachal adenocarcinoma six months ago, a type of bladder cancer, with only one other recorded case in Ireland to date.

The urachus is a structure that connects the bellybutton and the bladder, normally only present during development in the womb. This connection normally disappears before birth, but for one in a million people, an aggressive type of cancer forms. 

According to Ciara, the symptoms started last year in the form of regular infections.

“I had been getting treatment for urinary tract infections for a while, they were my only symptoms,” Ciara told

The Bray native was diagnosed on February 23 and has since launched a blog called ‘No Filter’ ( to share the journey of the “biggest fight” of her life this year, chronicling the things that make her happy and the struggles she’s facing.

Ciara was diagnosed in February 2018 after battling several urinary tract infections.
Ciara was diagnosed in February 2018 after battling several urinary tract infections.

“It was devastating. I wanted to spread awareness on the struggle with being diagnosed,” Ciara said.

“It also helps me to get everything out there, how I’m feeling- it spurs me on to keep going.”

Since the diagnosis, Ciara has been researching the benefits of alternative and holistic treatments to manage the pain. 

“My friend passed away from cancer four weeks ago and she got me into alternative medicine,” Ciara explained.

“I’ve been trying wheatgrass which is great for the blood count, and CBD oil as well. I’ve also tried turmeric powder in smoothies which is said to be good at killing cancer cells.”

In recent weeks, Ciara was told the cancer had spread with numerous tumors appearing on the spine. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy and radiation- but is now looking at going to the States for a second opinion.

"Everything happened so quickly. First I had one third of my bladder removed and a hysterectomy. The first lot of chemotherapy wasn't working.

"At the moment it's travelled to my hip, shoulder, ribs, my leg and my arm- and it’s spreading. I'm in a position where I want to seek a second opinion."

Ciara’s sister Natalie set up a GoFundMe page to raise funds for Ciara and her family for the treatment. 

“Ciara is full of life and fun. She is always the life and soul of any occasion, her dirty sense of humour and her love of 'Dad' jokes keeps us endlessly entertained,” Natalie said.

“She is a make-up artist and is super talented. She loves make-up, fashion, friends and family. Ciara is someone who leaves an impression on those she meets. 

“She loves with all of her heart and she is loved dearly in return. She is so beautiful on the inside and on the outside.”

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